From the time of the earliest settlers, Northwest Indiana has been a Region that works — and hard.
But how hard are we working to build a future that ensures we remain a viable, attractive location with enough quality of place to retain and attract our younger generations?
It's a key question to ponder, and then act upon, this Labor Day weekend.
How often do we see the best and brightest of our youth obtain their education or trades training and then seek out more lucrative employment or quality of place opportunities in other regions and states?
How hard are we working — and more importantly, what are we building — to keep the future lifeblood of our communities from leaving the Region in the dust when they reach independent adulthood?
Some very crucial things are occurring to provide our youth incentives to stay.
Long-awaited commuter rail expansion appears to be on the cusp of becoming reality.
During a Region visit Friday, Gov. Eric Holcomb expressed confidence that federal funding will be coming through for an extension of the South Shore commuter rail line from Hammond to Dyer and double tracking from Gary to Michigan City to speed commutes.
State and Region government already have pledged significant financial resources to harness the federal funding.
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Viable public transportation that links our Region to the jobs and economy of Chicago is a key priority for emerging generations, and the commuter rail expansion plan takes careful aim at this goal.
We also can find encouragement in efforts to improve the fortunes of our Region's most troubled and economically struggling urban city.
The state's approval of a new land-based casino in Gary, closer to a viable transportation thoroughfare that the city’s existing water-based casinos, should be a boost to both future jobs and taxpayer revenue.
South Lake County and Porter County communities continue to invest in quality of place features, from youth sports complexes to outdoor gathering places such as Crown Point's new Bulldog Park and Valparaiso's many downtown community attractions. Michigan City continues capitalizing on its beautiful lakefront amenities.
These are all things that can help improve our Region's viability and attractiveness to younger generations.
A rugged individualism has long characterized our Region, especially with its economic foundation of steel and heavy industry.
But changes in those industries mean they can no longer sustain our Region's economic future and feed our need for quality of place.
Our collective passions to achieve, build, grow and improve must always define us.
Now we must turn those passions to things that retain and nurture our future leaders, workers and taxpayers.